Friday, March 6, 2009

i will not be discouraged. i will not give up. i will fight.

a happy international women's day! to you, and you, and you.

how did you celebrate?

i celebrated with a screening of "a powerful noise," a stunning documentary about women making a difference around the world, which was just what i needed to clear my mind of all the reality tv junk i filled it with this week, and restore some perspective about what's really important. (hint: it is not jason the bachelor.)

the film tells the stories of three women, one in mali, one in vietnam and one in bosnia and herzegovina, working to meet the needs of the women around them. one woman starts a foundation to educate domestic workers so they cannot be taken advantage of and abused by their employers; another an organization to support women living with HIV and provide AIDS prevention education; the third an agricultural co-op so widows left behind by bitter civil war can support themselves and their families and heal damaging ethnic divides. and, in a sort of amazing way, as the women's needs are met, everyone else's needs get taken care of, too.

when you help women, you help everyone.

as the columnist katha pollitt put it, there are no women's issues, only human issues. former secretary of state madeline albright has a slightly less kind way of saying the same thing: there is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.

consider this. educate a mother, teach her to read and write, teach her a skill and she can start to earn money and support her family on her own. suddenly, she can afford bed nets so her children don't contract malaria. suddenly, her daughters who have been working to help support the family can go to school. suddenly, she is in a place to empower other women. suddenly, her life is changed. her family is changed. her community is changed.

and it just gets bigger.

when you help women, you help everyone.

i often fall victim to the pessimistic (and ultimately avoidant) conception that the problem is just too overwhelming. poverty, infectious disease, abuse and family violence, war. i'm not bono. what can i possibly do?

but today i was reminded that every single little itty bit counts. every single little itty bitty project, every single little itty bitty solution, every single little itty bitty dollar chips away at the bigger problem. and every single little itty bit grows.

i mean, let's face it. if i can spare the money to buy a bunch of clothes i don't need from forever 21, (you're welcome, economy!), i can probably spare the money it would take to help fund a well in a rural village so girls can go to school instead of carrying water all day long.

don't you think? i do.

care to join me? here and here and here are a few places to start.

and then we won't have to worry about going to hell anymore, which will be a big relief.

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